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Police investigate cause of deadly I-215 crash

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SALT LAKE CITY — One driver was killed in a fiery Wednesday morning crash on I-215.

The accident happened just after 2:30 a.m. on I-215 south near 300 West. For an unknown reason, an eastbound car drifted off the road, drove between the cement rails that divide east and west traffic and smashed into the concrete pillar of an overpass used by UTA TRAX trains.

"I've never seen anything like this. If you look at the gap, the car barely fits down the center of that rail," said Utah Highway Patrol Lt. Mike Loveland.

There were no witnesses to the actual crash, Loveland said. But shortly after the accident, witnesses came upon the vehicle and noticed it was on fire.

"It was just a very large car fire, and there was people that were helping out," said UHP Trooper Shawn Pepper, who was one of the first emergency responders to arrive.

While other motorists were dumping water on the fire, Pepper grabbed a fire extinguisher and rushed towards the burning car. Once the extinguisher canister was empty he realized it was too late to save the woman inside.

"Ultimately, the car did become fully engulfed and we basically lost the entire car with the flames," Loveland said. "(Witnesses) really just could not do anything at that point."

"Unfortunately, the situation was just too severe for anything to happen," Pepper said.

Black soot from the flames could still be seen reaching the top of the overpass Wednesday morning. After emergency crews put out the fire, Loveland said firefighters found a body in the driver's seat.

"You don't wish that on anybody," Pepper said. "It's just an unfortunate thing."

Troopers say the woman driving likely died as a result of the crash and not the fire. Her name has not been released. The car was registered to someone in Rock Springs, Wyo.

Investigators are still trying to determine the cause of the crash.

UDOT and UTA engineers inspected the bridge, which appears to be OK.

Contributing: Randall Jeppesen


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